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School wants a meeting - what for?

(29 Posts)
OutsideOverThere Wed 27-Feb-13 20:25:53

I deregged ds2 on Monday as he hasn't been happy at school for weeks - not miserable, but just, doesn't want to be there.

I emailed school explaining very clearly our reasons, saying the school was not to blame, he just prefers to be at home. I also sent the required dereg letter on paper.

Liaison person has approached me and asked for a meeting - she said the HT also wants to discuss it with me - but I'm not sure what they want to discuss.

I am there every day with ds1 who is doing well and very happy. They can see ds2 (and ds3) are fine. Ds2 would tell them if I was using him for child labour. (he would be not very useful at that) grin

So I'm feeling a bit like the naughty little girl, iykwim - what do you think they want to say to me? I've done the legal stuff I have to do, surely. Can anyone help me prepare so I don't come away feeling like rubbish> I have a feeling I might,.

also it's a bit bloody awkward as it means asking my mum to have ds2 and 3 - ds3 is 8 weeks old - I like to keep the childcare offer for emergencies really.

SDeuchars Fri 01-Mar-13 10:13:28

However, some schools do report to SS. They are not supposed to - HE is not a prima facie reason for welfare concerns, so they should only do it if there is some other reason for concern. I'd suggest you don't worry about it. Iff SS turn up, talk to them and demonstrate that there is no reason for concern (house being a tip is not a reason, as long as it is fairly clean).

seeker Fri 01-Mar-13 09:58:36

I would think it incredibly unlikely. Vanishingly unlikely. Social services are involve sometimes if a child just doesn't turn up to school because it can be a red flag for neglect. Particularly if there are other causes for concern. But that's not what you're doing. And as a school governor we most certainly wouldn't contact social services just because a child was de regged.

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 09:27:01

Just another thought - I don 't suppose anyone can really answer this but someone mentioned social services to me this morning. Just another mum whom the school referred a few years ago.

She said she was worried they might have suggested this to me. They haven't - but are they likely to on the basis of this?

yes our house is a tip and I'm finding it hard work with the new baby etc but we're always at school, on time, the children are pleasant, I don't shout at them in the playground or cry or anything. (she used to a lot)

Do you think they are really worried for his actual welfare if I keep him at home?

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 09:24:08

Thankyou, that makes a lot of sense and I can see him doing just that - wanting to be a baby but also wanting to grow up. The baby is winning atm!

I wish I had had more sleep recently to be able to cogitate all this stuff. I don't feel very able to decide anything. I think that's part of it too - he's getting his sleep disturbed a lot by babykins, which makes him just want to sleep all day really and not have to do proper work.

But he is working through books. So I don't know - will think it over again.

seeker Fri 01-Mar-13 06:59:43

It's a tricky age gap( arent't they all?) I honestly think it's not a good idea to make any drastic changes to a child's life so soon after such a world shattering event as the arrival of a new sibling. When you're 5 you're very much on the threshold of two worlds- I remember my dd being torn between her new, more grown up life of mor freedom, and school and friends and so on, and the old comfortable safe baby life that she saw her brother having. In general I think it's best to encourage them forward not back.

Only my opinion, obvs. Ignore!

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 06:31:40

Yes, have fully explained it Seeker. I take your point re the power thing.

I'm having 'talks' with him to try and work out a kind of balance between his wishes and my being the parent iyswim. It's a tricky one.

seeker Fri 01-Mar-13 06:29:12

Just to say it is actually quite common for a 5 year old with a new baby at home to say they don't want to go to school- but that doesn't necessarily mean they never want to go to school ever and you should take them out. I have the same age gap with mine, and she said the same. she would have been horrified if i had said "Oh, OK then. i've told them you're not going back". That's a lot of scary power to hand to a very little child.

You can take them seriously and acknowledge their feelings without actually acting on them. Have you explained to him that if he changes his mind he might not be able to go back to the same school?

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 06:28:29

Oh wow - thankyou. I've bookmarked that smile

mummytime Fri 01-Mar-13 06:16:36

There is a thread in Education about Flexi-schooling, it links to a government document. You could quote from that document as it states very clearly they have no right to try to persuade you to change your mind. This page 8. You could quote this back to them.

I am quite annoyed on your behalf as they do seem to be treating you more like a pupil than an adult equal.

Good luck.

OutsideOverThere Fri 01-Mar-13 06:01:39

thankyou's really good to get some feedback on this.

I think what worries them so much (Ht said she is worried, not sure why) is possibly that I have a kind of laid back attitude to all this. I haven't got to the point of 'I'm going to rescue him' because frankly it is, as schools go, a nice school and ds1 really likes it - but then a lot of stuff washes over him that would bother the heck out of me. (and ds2)

Nor am I the frantic parent who is terrified of a child who is 'different' - not that he really is - by not wanting to attend school. I mean yes it is nice in a way to feel that that side of their lives is all wrapped up nicely in a parcel, buck the trend, send him to school and all I have to do is feed and clothe him really. that is something I find quite attractive. But not enough to want to send him against his will. I won't do it 'at all costs' and I think that's the response to a child's dislike of school that they are accustomed to.

I'm kind of neither here nor there on it - if he's happy he can go, if he's not, then he doesn't have to. But we need to decide clearly so we aren't messing them about.

I know ds2 has mixed feelings about it. He wants to go, but he doesn't. At present the 'doesn't' is overriding the 'does'.

Their plan of action was for me to tell him that it's illegal not to go to school...'after all, he doesn't know!' hmm I just looked at her and said 'Oh, I'll just be honest with him' - she didn't know what to say to that.

Theyalso asked if I'd spoken to anyone else about it, and I told them my mother, and that surprisingly she was totally on side. Again, a baffled silence from them.

I think you may be right that she is invested in believing they MUST all go to school. I have never got my head around that. And to be so, so misguided about lying to children and about setting them up to a lifetime of entitled belligerence - I mean it's all BS. And makes me want to never send him there again.

However, last night he said, he might like to go for a day, then not the next day, then another day, and alternate like that. I think he really liked seeing his little friends yesterday. But he needs that sense of not 'power' as such, because it's not that, but of being listened to so that it's about his decision, and not mine or theirs. I think that has already really boosted his confidence, that he has had the option to walk away from something that was upsetting him.

Taking him seriously is really my standpoint I think and though they have a lot of good things going on, that's definitely not their strong point, which is sad. Yesterday really confirmed that...I'm not happy for him to be lied to, and they seemingly are.

Anyway many many thanks for all your thoughts. I'll let you know what we decide to do.

Saracen Fri 01-Mar-13 00:31:35

"and she took her dd in screaming every morning for a year so she understands."

Maybe that explains everything. I am sure she is not a heartless mum. It must have been incredibly difficult for her to watch her daughter suffer like that for so long. She personally took her screaming child in to school and handed her over every school day for a year. The only way she can live with having done that is by "knowing" that it was essential, that school is necessary and that there was no alternative course of action open to her. She has invested hugely in that belief.

Now suppose she sees you take your son out at an early stage, without him ever reaching deep and obvious distress. Suppose it proves easy for you to get by without school, and suppose your son is well-adjusted and thrives and that you never regret your decision. Where will that leave her? She will then have to face the painful fact that maybe she put her daughter through needless misery, or else continue to cling to the increasingly irrational idea that children cannot possibly be OK without school.

It is histories like these which often lie behind the strong anti-HE feelings which some people show.

SDeuchars Thu 28-Feb-13 21:45:30

I'm not sure how it is fair to use one's position of authority as a teacher/HT of the school to which the OP's DS goes to give unsolicited advice from a position of ignorance?

1. he is apparently very happy at school. I know he plays, he copes well, he likes some of his friends. that's not the point.

Quite - most of us can grit our teeth and find some good in any situation, especially if we think we don't have a choice.

2. He's 5 and too young to know his own feelings on the matter. I disagree though I can see I need to think long term too as to what's best for him.

I don't think he's too young to know his feelings now. If they change, you can deal with the new situation. As the parent, you may say that you want him to give HE a reasonable length of time (e.g. you won't school again until September). [That's what I did with DD at 9yo when she wanted to try school - we agreed on a full term, so that she was giving it a decent shot.]

3. regarding insecurity/new baby, instead of taking him out to compensate for this, I should reorganise my day to make sure he has my attention. I am to do this by making ds1 (9) look after the (8 week old) baby for an hour every evening while I give ds2 quality time. WTF?

WTF, indeed! If nothing else, this shows that they are talking from inappropriate orifices.

4. If I allow this to go ahead, he will expect every wish he ever has to be granted and will become frighteing and entitled and I will lose control and authority.

Total b******s! If anyone was going to become entitled, it was my DD (v strong-willed with AS traits). I think we owe to HE the fact that she has turned out to be a reasonable adult who can negotiate and rub along with others.

sunnyday123 Thu 28-Feb-13 19:56:22

Is he in reception then? If so i kind of agree with the teachers. at 5, he may just not be used to school. My dd is in reception and is only now just getting used to school. Many of her younger friends still get upset towards the end of the week as tiredness catches up etc. dd aged 7 doesn't love school everyday and often comes home complaining this and that's happened and when I speak to friends who are assistants there, they tell me she's always playing happily so half the time I know dd does it for attention. Not saying your DS is doing that at all but he is only 5 and everything is a big deal at that age.

I don't know much about home ed so can't comment on logistics etc but are you able to provide all the experiences and teaching the school offers whilst with a young baby?

If home ed is what you want then it sounds like the school are just making sure you are absolutely sure before giving the place away. They sound fair to me?

MerryMingeWhingesAgain Thu 28-Feb-13 19:31:57

WTF. I would email now to confirm you no longer want the place. And thanks for the unsolicited ' advice' but you are happy with the decision.

You are more polite than me, I would have politely declined their offer of a meeting. I don't HE at the moment but happily would, if I felt it was best for my child.

OutsideOverThere Thu 28-Feb-13 19:09:53

Oh and the clincher was this. That she understands how I feel, as they have all been there, with new babies and I am not in a good place to make this decision right now.

and she took her dd in screaming every morning for a year so she understands.

so that's alright then.

OutsideOverThere Thu 28-Feb-13 19:08:00

Thankyou, well, I went in in the end as they kept emailing and were really insistent.

I later found out this was because they have a waiting list with a sibling at the top and so his space would go instantly if I really wanted to take him out - they were giving me another chance.

That's great but they did sit me down and send ds2 out to his class, to play, and some of their reasoning was pretty dire.

1. he is apparently very happy at school. I know he plays, he copes well, he likes some of his friends. that's not the point.

2. He's 5 and too young to know his own feelings on the matter. I disagree though I can see I need to think long term too as to what's best for him.

3. regarding insecurity/new baby, instead of taking him out to compensate for this, I should reorganise my day to make sure he has my attention. I am to do this by making ds1 (9) look after the (8 week old) baby for an hour every evening while I give ds2 quality time. WTF? shock

4. If I allow this to go ahead, he will expect every wish he ever has to be granted and will become frighteing and entitled and I will lose control and authority.

I've been given until Monday to make a decision.

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 28-Feb-13 14:41:52

Good to hear :-)

OutsideOverThere Thu 28-Feb-13 10:52:39

Thankyou both...I got asked again this morning and said yes, I'd go in this afternoon but actually I really don't want to be sat in a room with them both trying to make me change my mind.

So I've emailed to cancel and suggested maybe next week would be better.

Meanwhile ds2 sits at my feet doing some maths books from Wilkinsons that ds1 could barely manage at age 7. Feel a bit calmer today smile

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 28-Feb-13 08:24:45

*gone= home!

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 28-Feb-13 08:24:10

Honestly, you don't have to go to a meeting! He's not at the school any more, they don't get to set the agenda. I'd tell them that with the baby, and with ds2 at gone now, it wouldn't be convenient, but if they want to give me a ring to discuss anything, these times would be ok.

Good luck.

Saracen Wed 27-Feb-13 23:25:05

I agree that it is likely that the school just want to ensure there is nothing more they can/should do to help your son want to remain at school and be happy there. However, there is a not insignificant possibility that someone at school has some odd ideas about home education and the agenda is to talk you out of it. That does happen fairly often. The liaison person was nice and respectful about your decision to home educate, but are you sure that the headteacher will be?

Sounds like you yourself feel sufficiently confident about your decision to take whatever may come your way. You can always respond to any concerns they may have by replying that this is what you have decided to do for the time being, and you'll review the decision if it doesn't seem to be working out. However, it might be undermining and upsetting to your son if he hears people saying that home education is going to turn him into a social misfit or that you aren't well equipped to do it.

I don't see any reason why this couldn't be a phone conversation, with your older children out of earshot.

OutsideOverThere Wed 27-Feb-13 21:02:35

Good points. I can see they want to cover themselves and yes, maybe they are wondering if they should have done something sooner.

I did mention it at the parents meeting we had before half term - but it wasn't really something his teacher took as serious, I mean the intention to act on his unhappiness if it continued - I suppose most parents would persevere and try and get their child to enjoy it whatever it took, it seems almost unheard of to take the child out of school, just because it doesn't enjoy it.

So I can see it came as a shock to them. I wish I had said it more assertively at the time, or sooner but tbh we were just dealing with it on an everyday basis at home and after several weeks of him saying he hated school, I decided to listen to him.

I don't think there is anything they could have done. It just is his personality. My other son loves school, but this one doesn't.

Hopefully I'll be able to take the kids and it'll be a short meeting smile

Thanks all.

FionaJNicholson Wed 27-Feb-13 20:54:23


Is this England?

they should've spotted he was unhappy. they didn't. they know it's too late. but they are trying to see if there is anything they can do. be worth asking if they have actually taken his name off the roll, they might not have done.

discrete Wed 27-Feb-13 20:49:16

It's probably because they don't want to have it come back via some other route that you were really unhappy with anything they did, so want to make sure they are giving you any chance to say it to them.

That way if you do turn around and say it was all their fault, they can say that they had a meeting with you to discuss your concerns and so their asses are covered.

I would say that because of childcare issues you would rather do it on the phone, or with your children present. I can't see why they would object to that.

OutsideOverThere Wed 27-Feb-13 20:43:51

I guess it could be that they want to suggest something helpful. But I doubt they would want to keep the place open - surely they have to let the LA know immediately?
I think I'll have to take ds2 and 3 with me, if they insist because my mum lives several miles away and I hate asking her to sit for them.
I already had a long convo with the family liaison woman and don't see why we can't just discuss it on the phone tbh.
But still, I take your points.

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